There are almost half a million home owner’s associations that cover tens of millions of homes across the country. As a matter of fact, if you own a house, there’s about a 1 in 2 chance that you have to deal with HOA management.
An HOA in its best light collects reasonable dues that are necessary to maintain a community’s common areas. In its worst light, an HOA is a board of people that have too much power over your lifestyle and will actively fine members for minor infractions.
If you’re dealing with an HOA that falls in the latter of those two camps, take a deep breath and start being proactive in managing your relationship. Below, we share a few helpful tips that are worth leaning on.
1. Get Familiar With the Rules
When you’re having to deal with bad HOA management, your best line of defense against their harassment is to understand your charter’s rules.
Every member of an HOA should have access to the rules that govern their community. Despite that, few go through the trouble of reading the guidelines.
Get ahead of the curve by devouring all HOA reading materials. Armed with that knowledge, you can avoid infractions or immediately push back on rules that are being enforced that are not in line with what’s required of you.
2. Don’t Start From a Combative Place
Bad HOA management tends to bring out the worst in people. Before you fly off the handle and start sending angry emails or yell at community meetings, take a step back.
Most HOA boards aren’t as insidious as you might want to believe. They may just be trying to do their job of enforcing the policies you signed up for when you moved into the community.
Rather than being combative when you have a disagreement with your HOA, calmly and politely introduce yourself, explain your problem, and request guidance towards solutions. Remember, you catch more honey with bees than with vinegar.
3. Explore Other Members’ Experiences
Do you feel like you’re the only one being subjected to bad experiences with the HOA? If you are, it may constitute harassment which could violate the Fair Housing Act.
To get to the bottom of what’s going on in your broader community, talk to your neighbors. Do they find that the HOA leaves them alone? Are they actively trying to switch HOA management companies because they’re fed up with them?
Taking the temperature of other HOA members can help you understand how best to interpret the problems you’re facing.
4. Show up to Community Meetings
Most HOA bodies will hold a meeting on at least a monthly basis. This meeting is held to inform community members of things that are coming up and also to offer a forum where members can voice their concerns or vote on various charter changes.
Attending these meetings is integral when you’re dealing with a bad HOA because it allows you to voice your opposition, in person, in front of other community members.
By being vocal about your dissatisfaction in a forum like this, HOA members will have a hard time ignoring your perspectives. You may even find that other members in attendance will echo your concerns.
5. Ask for Variances When Fined
Did you get an HOA fine that you feel is “borderline” as far as rule interpretation is concerned? If so, you may be able to get a variance.
Variances are requests to an HOA to revert an infraction due to special circumstances. While requesting a variance doesn’t guarantee acceptance, if circumstances are truly questionable and an HOA feels like you might have a case in court, you could get a favorable decision.
6. Threaten Legal Action When Appropriate
You never want to be the person in your community that threatens to sue whenever you don’t get your way. First off, nobody likes that person. Second, unless you have unlimited access to legal support, you’ll probably end up being a lot more bark than bite.
When appropriate though, outlining your concerns and your intentions to hire legal representation can grease the wheels in a situation where you feel you’re being blatantly taken advantage of. If you are threatening legal action, do so in writing via email or better yet, by dropping a letter in your HOA’s mailbox.
You will likely get a prompt response.
7. Make Changes From the Inside
Sometimes, the best way to beat your enemies is to join them. A typical HOA will usually have several community board positions that can be very influential in the way that the association operates.
By joining the board, you can help reshape bad operations from the inside.
Most board positions are voted on so you may need to put together a small campaign to get elected. Still, the effort could be well worth it if you feel your ideas could make your community a better place to live.
Don’t Let Bad HOA Management Ruin Your Life
No matter where you live, chances are there’s going to be one person that hates the HOA management that governs their community. If you’re upset about the management you’re under, do yourself a favor and try to keep things light when navigating your dissatisfaction.
We’ve seen people get consumed by their hatred for their home owner’s associations which is no way to live.
Are you looking for additional game-changing lifestyle advice? If you are, check out more of the content we have available in our blog!